What Happens If You Try to Putt Out a Conceded Putt — and Miss?

Is it a stroke? A penalty? What's the ruling?

Golfer taps in a short putt
What happens if a golfer goes to tap in a putt that his opponent has already conceded ... but then misses?. David Cannon/Getty Images

Here's the scenario: You are playing an opponent in match play, and you concede a putt to your opponent. But the opponent putts the ball anyway, and the ball misses the cup. Has your opponent just cost himself a stroke and possibly the hole?

The answer is no, the hole was over at the moment you conceded the putt. The missed "putt" doesn't count because, according to the rules, that putt never happened.

Key Takeaways

  • A 'conceded putt' happens, in match play only (they are not allowed in stroke play), when one golfer tells her opponent to count their next stroke as holed.
  • When the concession is made, the ball is considered holed and the golfer whose putt was conceded is finished playing that hole.
  • Once a stroke is conceded, the concession can't be refused or withdrawn.

A Conceded Putt Is the Same as a Holed Putt

A golfer's play of the hole is over as soon as his golf ball is in the cup. And a conceded putt (or any conceded stroke, whether a putt or not) is exactly the same as holing the ball.

How do we know? Because the Rules of Golf say so. This is what Rule 3.2b says about the concession of a stroke:

"(Conceding an opponent's next stroke) is allowed any time before the opponent's next stroke is made. The opponent has then completed the hole with a score that includes that conceded stroke ..."

A little later in that section of the rules, the governing bodies add this important notice:

"A concession is final and cannot be declined or withdrawn."

A concession is final and can not be declined or withdrawn. Once Golfer A says to Golfer B, "that's good" or "pick it up" or "I'll concede that putt," Golfer B's play of the hole is over. His ball is holed. Period.

If he putts the ball anyway, it doesn't matter. It's nothing but a practice stroke, because his ball was already "holed" by the concession. 

Remember: The Rules Allow Concessions Only in Match Play 

So a conceded putt is a holed putt. But we better point out something, in case you're not clear about it: concessions are only allowed by the Rules of Golf in match play. In stroke play, there are no concessions — at least none that are allowed by the rules. In stroke play, every golfer must actually knock her ball into the hole on the green.

But What About 'Gimmies'?

Aha, you say, what about "gimmies"? Many golfers, particularly recreational golfers — buddies out for a fun day on the course — allow gimmies in stroke play. (A gimmie is a short putt that one golfer requests be given to him as made, as in "Will you give me that one?") But while golf buddies might allow gimmies in stroke play, the Rules of Golf do not.

So if your group uses gimmies, you are already outside the rules. Therefore, really, you can do whatever you want when it comes to a gimmie that is putted anyway and missed. However, in the interest of avoiding arguments, we suggest sticking with the match play rule that is in the rules: If a golfer asks for a gimmie, is given it, then putts anyway and misses, the missed putt doesn't count. The gimmie supersedes the miss.